Could your achey gut woes be caused by a sulphur build up in your body?

Sulphur is the third most abundant mineral in the body, coming just behind calcium and phosphorus. It plays a very important role in ageing, as it is responsible for providing structure and elasticity in the skin by linking collagen and elastin (which are skin proteins).

It also plays a role as an antioxidant and a detoxifier (helping with phase two liver detoxification) and is integral to bone and joint health, as well as mental health as it has a direct association with serotonin and dopamine levels.

Sulphur compounds are found in many foods such as dietary protein (beef, turkey, chicken, eggs and fish), and in the brassica family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts etc), and they help to support the balance of the good bacteria in the gut.

You may be intolerant to sulphur

Sulphur is crucial to life, and there can be life-long implications of not having enough sulphur in your body. However, some people can have an inability to metabolise and consequently utilise sulphur properly within their body, which can result in an over-dose of sulphur within the body.

Symptoms of too much sulphur can include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Gut inflammation - causing gas, bloating and discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Lethargy
  • Eczema/skin urticaria
  • Nausea
  • Nose bleeds
  • Asthma
  • Allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, nasal congestion and itching

Some of the causes of this intolerance can include:

  • Problems with methylation
  • Problems with detoxification
  • SIBO or gut dysbiosis
  • Problems with the metabolism of sulphur amino acids
  • Genetic polymorphisms (also known as SNPs)

Other causes for excess sulphur in the body are also due to ingesting too many sulphur-containing foods and supplements, which means your body isn’t getting the chance to break it down and reduce sulphur stores.

If you do suffer from too much sulphur, the first thing to do is watch your diet. Following a low-sulphur diet is the best way to help clear excess sulphur in your body.

But, it's best not to follow a low-sulphur diet for too long

However, it is important to make sure that you don’t follow a low-sulphur diet for too long, otherwise you may tip the scale the other way and become deficient in sulphur. Think of a low-sulphur diet as a treatment protocol, not a lifestyle choice. The aim is to balance sulphur levels rather than going to extremes.

By clearing dietary sulphur first, it then allows you to work out whether you are sulphur-excessive due to diet, or whether there is one of the underlying issues mentioned previously. If there is an underlying issue such as gut dysbiosis, clearing excessive sulphur first will allow any treatment protocols to be more effective as your body doesn’t have to struggle with too much sulphur at the same time as you are trying to work on the issue.

There are also certain supplements that can help to process sulphur. Molybdenum plays a crucial role in sulphite oxidase, as does choline and the B vitamins (in particular folate and B12), as these support the methylation pathway.